The Wood Thrush Sings

“This is the only bird whose note affects me like music. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It changes all hours to an eternal morning.” ~Henry David Thoreau

This year, a wood thrush has come to live in our woods. I knew its song immediately, the distinctive two part harmony it sings through its Y-shaped syrinx (voice box). It is an elusive woodland bird that is related to the robin (and sometimes called a wood robin), but seldom seen – I have yet to spot him. His song goes on each day from pre-dawn to early evening and accompanies my every move in the garden, a lovely soundtrack to my days. Here is a clip of his song that I captured a few mornings ago. 

Mulberry tree

Mulberry tree

June is the month of roses and clematis, bringing a new set of colors to the garden. The mulberry tree that hangs over the garden fence is overflowing with berries, a feast attracting the birds and littering the gravel paths. A giant kousa dogwood at the driveway entrance has been spectacular, a long column of white blossoms that is only now beginning to fade to green. Once again our temperatures vary drastically from cool to hot and back again, punctuated by wild thunderstorms, unusual weather for June.  But the garden is lush and full from the heat and rain; here are a few images of June’s bloom. Click on any photo to start the slide viewer – enjoy!  (All photos ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

It is the perfection of music when heard in its place and season… the note of the wood-robin is the spontaneous voice of Nature, devoid of artifice, clear as a bell.” ~T. Chalkley Palmer

To learn more about the wood thrush, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology or Friends of Glen Providence Park.

The Merry Month

The skies were bright,
Our hearts were light
in the merry merry month of May ~Stephen Foster

Circles in MayMay is coming to a close and the garden continues to change before my eyes. The spectacular bloom of spring has softened into lush green growth while clematis, iris, and peonies have taken the place of daffodils and tulips. Soft tones of blue, mauve, and peach dominate the color palette while the scent of honeysuckle and Viburnum fill the air. A few roses are beginning to open as the May bloom season dissolves into early summer.

In the coldframe, hundreds of plants are patiently awaiting their entrance into the earth and I wonder what I was thinking when I started so many flats of annuals deep in the winter. Planting seeds was a sure sign of longing for the promise of spring in a gray cold world, and now that world is merry again with color and scent! (All photos ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

Longing for spring and celebrating its arrival is an old tale. There are many versions of songs that celebrate the joys of May in the northern hemisphere; here are a few to entertain you as you view some scenes of the late May garden.

Stephen Foster’s “The Merry Merry Month of May” sung by Nelson Eddy

Henry Youell’s madrigal “In the Merry Month of May”

William Byrd’s “Sweet and Merry Month of May”

The Simpson’s version of “Merry Month of May”

The Flower Born Today

The flower that you hold in your hands was born today and already it is as old as you are. ~Antonio Porchia

Tulip 'Apricot Beauty'Each day as I walk through my garden, I see the culmination of work that I did last year, or ten years ago. I also see what is to come, tomorrow, next week, next month. Gardeners are time travelers of a sort. This spring, I am reaping the rewards of having the paths redone last summer. To tread on firm gravel instead of sinking up to my ankles in muck as I moved through the garden in April brought to mind the last year’s path project and my hopes for the garden this season. Every tulip and daffodil that bloomed this spring arose from the bending and digging last October when I planted a thousand bulbs – a vision of floral extravaganza played through in my mind as the autumn leaves fell golden to the ground. Now as I trim the fading blooms from each spring flower, I notice the burgeoning growth of  roses and daylilies to come, and anticipate the floral fireworks of June and July in my imagination.

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I stand in a river of time as the garden streams around me, a constant eddy and flow of events in the moment, yet each dependent on the imagination of the past and the hope of the future. This week, unseasonable heat brought the spring bulb season to a sudden close but also brought on the purple lollipops of Allium aflutanense and the brilliantly colored cloaks of Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Nature never stands still and the ever changing garden carries the gardener with it. Here are a few scenes from the passing spring and the approaching summer; click on any photo to enter the slide viewer. Enjoy! (All photos ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

There is no “End” to be written, neither can you, like an architect, engrave in stone the day the garden was finished. A painter can frame his picture, a composer can notate his coda, but a garden is always on the move. ~Mirabel Osler

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping, into the future. ~Steve Miller (Fly Like An Eagle)

The Lion Roars

March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb. (old proverb)

Zelda sleeps The month of March has carried the winter banner forward – snow, a bit of rain, and more snow. Bitter temperatures come and go – at least the garden is covered by a deep layer of snow, tucked in safely for the season. For most of us in North America, the winter has been long and difficult and I, at least, long for the return of spring.

Whiteout in the woodsThe garden is asleep, as witnessed by Zelda peering out from her wintry cap. (here is Zelda in warmer times) Snow whiteouts have become common, spectacular and ghost-like. The world is gray and white and brown but I am dreaming of color. To satisfy my need for the hues and vibrancy of the garden, I have begun spending the first hour of each day watching YouTube garden videos. They remind me that the garden season is not so far away and I am inspired to plant seeds, propagate plants, and dream of the days to come. Here are a few of my favorite videos filled with color and hope.

Gardener’s World hosted by Monty Don is a rich mix of garden visits, personal experience growing a wide variety of plants, and tips and tricks for any gardener.  Episodes from March 2011 onward are a great choice, starting with this fresh breath of spring.

Carol Klein, a passionate gardener and presenter for BBC’s Gardener’s World series, was featured in a six episode series focusing on her garden at Glebe Cottage.  “A Year in a Cottage Garden” is a beautifully filmed profile of a year in a personal and beautiful garden –  the time-lapse visuals are stunning and the music is lovely.

I am looking forward to the “out like a lamb” part of March. Warmer weather is predicted next week, so perhaps spring really is at hand. In the meantime, winter, however unwelcome, is still a beautiful season. (All images ©2015 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

The March wind roars like a lion in the sky,
And makes us shiver as he passes by.
When winds are soft, and the days are warm and clear,
Just like a gentle lamb, then spring is here. ~Anonymous

The Old Year Passes

Fast away the old year passes,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses ~ from Deck the Halls

winter skyReflection and anticipation vie for my attention at this time of the year. Like Janus, for whom January is named, I look back at the year that has passed even as I look ahead to the new year to come. A busy fall semester and the hubbub of the holidays has kept me away from my blog until now, but in the lull before the new semester begins, I have been reflecting on this past year in the garden. It was eventful, partly because of the work done on the garden paths and the deck, and the day I welcomed visitors to the garden. I’ve created a few “time lapse” slideshows of the seasons passing in the garden as a way of sharing my memories of the year’s delights.

The gravel paths that were installed this summer have been a joy to walk on in all kinds of weather; more than ever, they define the shape and the structure of the garden.

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Some areas of the garden change more dramatically than others as the seasons bring new colors, new blooms, and new heights of growth. I was particularly happy with the border below the deck, set off by the new path, and the meadowy bed outside of the gate that I call the “herb circle” anchored by a terra cotta birdbath.

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Perhaps the most iconic element in the garden is the arbor that connects the outside garden to the garden hidden inside. Designed to echo the roofline of the house, its simple shape becomes the one unchanging element as the seasons pass.

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As for hailing the new year, seeds and plants have already been ordered and plans for the garden are in the works. I hope that you enjoyed the “time-lapse” images of the garden (all photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse). A special thank you to each one of my visitors this past year, and especially my followers and fellow bloggers. May you have a new year filled with joy, beauty, and wonder.

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring. ~George Santayana